"I did not play much golf early in my career. There wasn't time. But when my older son was a high-school freshman, my wife decided I should learn to play. She figured it would be a good way for our boys and me to spend time together. There was a nine-hole course near our farm in New Jersey, and we went out hacking and duffing. My older son has an absolutely perfect, natural swing—for which I take credit, of course. I, on the other hand, am not a natural. He was beating me almost immediately, and that has not changed a bit over the years.
"My number-two son plays well, and my teenage daughters are learning. My wife, too. One day at Pebble Beach, on the eighth hole, both boys knocked their tee shots over the cliff into the water. I did, too. My wife hit a perfect shot into the fairway. The caddies were relentless, making fun of us.
"I've played some great courses, including Augusta National. It's a wonderful place with wonderful people. My feeling about the controversy there is that the wives and daughters and sisters of the current members will influence the outcome far more than Martha Burk. I think Martha's right that there should be no exclusion. Augusta represents the pinnacle of golf. It is the nexus of corporate power and the golf establishment. Augusta is not simply a club, it's a national treasure. And to some degree it's a victim of its own success. Do the members have a right to make their own decisions?Yes. But I think it's too much of a symbol, too much of an icon, to keep women out. Considering how important Augusta is, I don't think there should be anything exclusionary about it.
"And I'm glad I had the chance to play there—since I won't get to again after people read this.
"I should practice more, but I usually hit a few balls before a round and let it go at that. I'd love to improve my short game. If I could learn to play my wedges, I'd be the happiest man in the country. My latest plan is to play once or twice a month. On weekends during the winter I've been playing at Ironhorse and The Floridian, Wayne Huizenga's course.
"A lot of businessmen do deals on the course, but I never let business get in the way of a golf outing. So I play mostly with friends and family. The downside is, they beat me like a drum.
"At the same time, I enjoy the hell out of talking about the business climate and the economy. Right now, if you talk to people from Wall Street, things sound bleak. If you talk to people from the middle of the country who run basic businesses, they sound pretty good. Still, everyone has felt the stock market crash and everyone is leery. And yet everyone thinks business will get better—they just aren't saying when. I agree. No one has been more critical of corporate America than I have been on my broadcast. At the same time, I have absolute faith in the system. I expect the economy to grow at a steady, modest rate of 2 to 3 percent over the next year. I think the market will rebound, breaking its string of three straight yearly losses. Investors should expect high-single-digit gains from their investments, and most of us will be cheering those modest returns.
"On the course, I've had two moments worth cheering. The first was in a charity tournament at Highpoint Country Club in New Jersey. My 140-yard eight-iron landed six inches from the cup. I won a gold putter for being nearest to the pin. And I sank the putt—barely. I had just seen Phil Mickelson miss a one-foot putt, and I was scared.
"At an event Wayne Huizenga put on, I was playing with Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus when Player showed me how to improve my grip. Nicklaus told him to leave my grip alone. 'There's nothing wrong with Lou's swing,' he said. So I turned to Gary and said proudly, 'How about that?Jack Nicklaus says there's nothing wrong with my swing.' Then Jack popped my bubble. He said, 'Yeah, Lou, but I didn't say there's anything right about it, either.'"
Scorecard: LOU DOBBS
BEST SCORE 82 at Great Gorge Country Club, McAfee, New Jersey
MEMBERSHIPS Ironhorse Country Club, West Palm Beach, Florida; The Floridian Golf Club, Palm City, Florida
EQUIPMENT TaylorMade 580 driver, Ping fairway woods, Callaway Big Bertha graphite irons, Scotty Cameron putter
A Lesson for Lou
ANALYSIS BY CLAUDE HARMON III
Lou Dobbs does some things well, but he could make fast gains by spending time with a teaching pro. At address, his stance is narrow, with his feet splayed. He should widen his stance and square up his feet. He takes the club back too far inside, and at the top his legs are too close together. On the downswing his hips slide rather than turn, costing him power. At impact his hands flip over. Without exquisite pace and timing, Dobbs will have trouble making consistent contact. A strong finish can't save a swing that was sabotaged by a poor address position.